Few experiences have been more beneficial to my career than my involvement in mooting. Whether you plan to be in practice, policy, or academia, nothing can better prepare you than participation in an international moot court competition like the Vis Moot – I know I would not have had half the opportunities I’ve had if it weren’t for the skills I learnt mooting. Being able to show an employer that you can carry out in-depth legal research, write persuasive legal submissions, and convincingly put your case forward under intense questioning will place you head and shoulders above any other graduate, and I cannot recommend it enough.
I started mooting in my final year at Glasgow, taking part in the University’s European Human Rights Project. This was something I had no prior experience in – I actually tried to turn my place down when I was first offered it! But by the end of the year it was incredible to see the progress I’d made. My team and I had worked together to produce over 100 pages of written submissions, survived oral hearings before the UK Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, and learnt a great deal about ourselves, utilising each other’s strengths and weaknesses to ensure the team’s success. Not to mention that you become a master at time management – mooting takes up a lot of time, so you really learn to focus your attention and balance your workload against other classes.
To be honest, I fully expected my mooting career to end after leaving Glasgow. But when I heard that the University of Helsinki, where I undertook my Master’s, had a number of international moot court competition teams, I thought I’d try out once again, and was lucky enough to secure a place on the team for the Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the largest competition of its kind in the world. Competitive mooting was a totally different experience to the EHRP: the expected standard is much, much higher, and our coaches worked us hard, with multiple training sessions each week to ensure a comprehensive knowledge of the subject at hand.
This was a truly invaluable experience. I was able to build on the fundamentals I’d gained through the EHRP and test them against other teams at international rounds, eventually placing as 13th best oralist in the entire competition in Washington DC. It was particularly illuminating to see how other teams (and judges) would interpret and tackle the same questions, and by the end of the competition you really have a deep knowledge of the issues that make up the case – it’s not by accident that many Jessup participants adapt their pleadings into undergraduate dissertations, Master’s theses, and even – as in my case – PhD projects.
Since competing, I have remained an active part of the Jessup community. I have served as a coach for Helsinki for the past two years, and have travelled to judge rounds in Brazil, Hungary, and Ukraine, where I will be returning this summer to teach at the Jessup Summer School in Kiev. These are experiences I would never have gained without mooting, and the trips present great networking opportunities to meet experts and practitioners in the field, as well as a chance to make friends across the globe – just last week I had friends from Iceland come to visit Glasgow, people I’d never have met if it weren’t for the Jessup.
If you make it on to the Vis Moot team, I promise you won’t regret it. You’ll get to travel to Vienna to meet and compete against students from all over the world. You’ll come out a more competent lawyer, a more confident speaker, and you’ll be equipped with skills that any employer will value – my mooting has almost uniformly been the first thing I’ve been asked about in job interviews, and it’s not surprising to find that many employers are ex-mooters themselves. The Vis Moot will undoubtedly be hard work, but the successes – and experiences – will far outweigh anything else you’ll do at Glasgow. I can only wish you the best of luck for the coming year!
David Scott, PhD student, University of Manchester (starting September 2017)
Master’s in International Comparative Law – University of Helsinki
LLB (Hons.) – University of Glasgow
Find out more at the School’s Vis Moot webpages.